Dried peaches are one of our family's favorite treats. Here's the easy method I use every year for perfectly drying peaches in a dehydrator, when peach season comes around!
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I don't think there's any crop I enjoy harvesting more than peaches. Every year that we get a sweet, lovely harvest, I just feel so incredibly blessed.
We love eating them fresh, but if you have a peach tree you know what I mean when I say that they don't keep long. Once they're ripe, they really need to be harvested right away. And once they're off the tree, you only have a day or two before they start getting soft spots and attracting fruit flies.
So once our peaches are in baskets, we enjoy eating them fresh, while putting most of them up for the winter. The majority of our peaches get canned, but I also love keeping the dehydrator running with batch after batch of dried peaches...until every last peach is either eaten, canned or dried.
It's a gloriously peachy few days around here, and the house smells amazing.
Dried peaches are one of the kids' absolute favorite treats, and seeing their eyes light up every time I get out the dried peach jar really tickles this mama's heart. Duncan usually claps when I get them out, but the other day he surprised me with a joyful little fist in the air, and big shout of "huzzah!"
How to dry peaches in a dehydrator
Making dried peaches in a dehydrator couldn't be easier. The first step is to skin the peaches.
Start by filling a large sauce pan with water, and heating it to a gentle boil. Fill another large pan (or your kitchen sink!) with cold water.
Now, working in batches (I do about 5 peaches at a time), cut each peach in half, along the center ridge, and remove the pit. Then drop the peach halves into the boiling water for about 30 seconds until skins loosen, and slip easiy. If your peaches are perfectly ripe, this really should only take about 30 seconds. If they’re less than fully ripe, it could take up to a minute or even a tad longer. You’ll quickly figure out how long it take for the batch of peaches you're working with. Using a slotted spoon, remove all of the peach halves to the cold water.
Now it’s very easy to slip the skins right off each peach half. If there’s a tiny spot here or there that's hard to remove (like where there's a bit of insect damage, for example) you can use a paring knife to trim that bit. If the whole skin is just very hard to remove, put the peach half back in the boiling water for a few seconds longer – it’s probably just a bit less ripe.
Almost every tutorial you read for making dried peaches at home calls for thinly slicing them. I really do not recommend this, myself. The very first time I dehydrated peaches years ago, that's the method I used, and I was terribly disappointed. In my opinion, dehydrated thinly-sliced peaches resemble sweet shoe leather.
If you want dry and shelf-stable peaches with a soft, chewy texture (dare I say it? Like the ones you'd buy in the store) - you simply want to dry them in halves. Don't slice them down any thinner than that - even the large ones.
As soon as you remove the skin from each peach half, place it cut-side-up on your dehydrator tray. Don't be tempted to use a fruit-leather liner on top of your dehydrator trays. In my experience it more than doubles the drying time for halved peaches, and really isn't needed.
Another thing I don't recommend is soaking the peach halves in lemon juice or citric acid before drying them. Many how-to guides call for this, as a way to reduce browning in the dried peaches. But I truly do not find it at all necessary, and feel that it just water-logs them a bit, making the dehydration time take longer.
The batch of dried peaches in this picture below was simply dried according to the method in this post, with no lemon juice or citric acid. The photo was taken in natural light, with not one bit of editing. See what I mean about color-preserving treatments not being necessary?
Once your trays are full, dehydrate peach halves at 135 degrees until they are fully dry - about 8-12 hours, depending on your dehydrator and the size of your peaches. With medium-large peaches, in my old Nesco dehydrator, this usually takes about 9 hours.
Dried peaches should be slightly glossy, dry to the touch, and not the least bit mushy or damp feeling. If you have any doubt, they probably need just a bit longer.
Allow peaches to fully cool before removing them from trays, and packing loosely in airtight containers. If you plan to vacuum seal your dried peaches, don't do this quite yet.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the moisture content of home dried fruit should be about 20 percent. To make sure your peaches are evenly and fully dry, it's important to condition them before long term storage.
All this means, is that once your peaches are in their containers, they should be allowed to stand at room temperature for a week. Any extra moisture in some pieces that weren't quite as dry will be absorbed by the drier pieces. Give the jars a shake each day, separate any pieces that may be clumping together, and check for any condensation.
If you do find condensation in the jars at any point, return the peaches to the dehydrator for more drying time. Once you've let them hang out at room temperature for a week, and have seen that they're properly dry, without developing any condensation, you can seal them up for long term storage.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation states that "Most dried fruits can be stored for 1 year at 60ºF, 6 months at 80ºF."
I've stored vacuum-sealed dried peaches in a cool location for several months, without noticing a loss in quality. It's probably worth adding though, that the only reason those peaches stuck around long enough for me to know this, is that one of the vacuum sealed packages had fallen behind a crate of dried tomatoes and I didn't know it was there. Dried peaches never last very long in our house, and I'll bet it might be the same for you!
Don't have loads of fresh peaches, but want to make up a batch of these heavenly dried peaches? Here's my method for drying canned peaches. It works great, and they're wonderful too!
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